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JESUS' RETURN: ARE WE THERE YET?

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Don't get "caught up" in the Rapture debate. Just keep it simple.





When is Jesus coming back and how will we know the time? Is there any such thing as the rapture( Greek-Harpazo (caught up, snatch, take away)), and if the rapture is true, will it occur before or after the tribulation? Christians have debated these questions for years, but fortunately, all of these answers can be found in the Bible.

Frightened by wars, plagues, and earthquakes, each generation has had people who believed that Jesus would return in their lifetime; however, the Bible tells us that such things must happen. Jesus said "You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come” ( Matthew 24:6). Jesus also said concerning the day of his return, “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matthew 24:36).

Contrary to the belief of some, Jesus does not leave us totally in the in the dark about His return. Jesus told His disciples, “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door” Matthew 24:33. So what are these things that Jesus is telling us to be looking for? Well, Jesus also said that there would be warning signs. He said, “There will be signs in the sun, moon, and stars” (Luke 21:25). Furthermore, Jesus said, “There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven” (Luke 21:11). It should be understood that all of these signs are not to announce His coming but to remind us that He is coming. Meaning, we are not to look at an eclipse, comet, earthquake, or volcano eruption and expect Jesus to show up during these signs, but such signs can be used by God to remind us that Jesus is coming soon.

Some are looking for Jesus to come during the midst of a World War 3 or during a grand event, but Jesus stated that people would be living life like normal before His coming. He said, “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all” (Luke 17:27-29). This all means that that people will be going on with business as usual, social life, a vibrant economy(buying and selling), then all of a sudden He will return. Jesus likened His coming to the flash of lightning, meaning it will be quickly and seen everywhere. Jesus said, “For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24:27).

Jesus shares that we will disappear from this earth to be with Him. Speaking of the rapture, Jesus said, “Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other will be left” (Luke 17:36). The angels also told the disciples when Jesus ascended into heaven, “Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven” Acts (1:11). This tells us that Jesus will be visible in the sky, but the scriptures also tell that we won’t slowing float up the sky, rather it will be an instant change. Paul said “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep(death), but we will all be changed. in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” 1st Corinthians 15:51-52. This tells us that instead of slowing floating up to the sky we will instantly appear with Jesus, and we will not have our current earthly bodies but our new glorified heavenly bodies, or imperishable bodies as Paul puts it.

Some argue about whether Christians will go through the tribulation or not. The Bible tells us directly that we will face tribulation on this earth as Jesus said, “…In the world ye shall have tribulation…” John (16:33). However, we will not face God's wrath or the Great Tribulation. The saints of Jesus’ day encountered tribulation(jailed, burned alive, murdered, etc) at the hands of those lead by the devil and were persecuted for their faith, and we should likewise be strong in our faith. Jesus reminds us, “but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:13). Jesus even said during the Beatitudes sermon, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me” Matthew 5:11. Fortunately, we will not face the wrath of God as Paul tells us, “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 5:9. So we will face tribulation with a small letter T which is the wrath of man and the devil for our faith for intense periods. But we will not face tribulation with a big T, which is the Great Tribulation, also called the wrath of God, in which the bowls of wrath are poured out as God awaits mankind’s last chance to repent (Revelation 16).

Knowing all of this, how are we to live? Jesus tells us that we should be ready. The parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25) reminds us to keep our oil burning, so we don’t miss out, this refers to not quenching the Holy Spirit by keeping the fire of God or the light of Jesus alive in us. The parable of the talents(Matthew 25:14-30) tells us to be busy with God’s work, using our resources and time to grow His kingdom and not our selfish plans. Also, the parable of the unmerciful servant(Matthew 18:21-35) tells us that we should be in a place of forgiveness towards all so that Jesus can receive us with open arms when He returns because we don’t re ready for him. Finally, Jesus tells us to live in such a way that we are not ashamed of Him. Jesus said, “Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when He comes in His glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels” (Luke 9:26).

Consequently, like a road sign that says, destination 50 miles, then 20 miles, then 10 miles, God has given us signs to point to His coming. However unlike a road sign that tells us how many miles till we get there, the signs of God don’t explicitly have written on them how many years left till Jesus returns. The signs simply remind us that we are getting closer and closer and closer. Eventually when many least expect it, He will return. Jesus said, Himself, “So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him” (Matthew 24:44). Therefore our focus should ultimately be on Jesus so when He does return He will say, “Well done my good and faithful servant..” (Matthew 25:23).

Though many are looking externally for the coming of the Kingdom of God we should remember what Luke 17:20-21 says. It reads, “And when He was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, He answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation. Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”

Your brother in Christ,

-WNL

Thought of the week: Though there definitely will be signs in the skies and all around that will remind us that Jesus' coming is soon. Let us first look within to make sure our hearts are ready, because ultimately the most important question is not when will Jesus come, but will you be ready when He does?
 
Active
I should say:


Don't get "[COLOR=#ff0000]caught up[/COLOR]" in the Rapture debate. [COLOR=#ff0000]Just Be Ready.[/COLOR]
 
Loyal
Today is the day that the Lord hath made. Tomorrow? Well for you and me, it may not ever get here.

So, now is the time to rejoice in the Lord always. And now it the time to praye without ceasing. These are the impossible things for man. But what is impossible for Christ in us, the hope of glory!
 

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